Book review: Programming Ruby

28 02 2006

0974514055.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpgProgramming Ruby, by Dave Thomas.

I finally decided to review this book, having read it quite some time ago. The reason I waited this long is that I feared I wouldn’t have been able to provide a fair assessment of the merits of this book. My problem is that, nowadays, I get easily bored reading yet another programming book. And a book entirely dedicated to a single programming language was bound to bore me infinitely.

That’s what happened, actually. I got so bored that it took me a really long time to finish it, even after skipping entire chapters. I managed to finish it only because I forced myself to do it.

I know Ruby is cute, and has lots of nice and innovative features, but I just can’t stand anymore reading operator precedence tables, variations on the basic control structures and core libraries. Last time I got excited by a programming language was with Java, and that was circa 1995. I’m too old for that.

But I must try to stay objective and think how useful “Programming Ruby” could be to a young programmer and I have to admit the answer would be: a lot! As is customary with titles from The Pragmatic Programmers, quality is very high, both from a content point of view and from a presentation one as well. Well written, it even manages to inject a bit of humor into a dry subject. If you want a one stop shop reference for all Ruby, that’s it! Not much more to say, except that I’d have liked, at times, the code samples to be longer, more structured and less contrived, but it’s a minor nit.

I suggest that you read it in bits and pieces, not cover-to-cover and if boredom gets you, you can always get a little of why’s (poignant) guide to Ruby as an antidote.




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